RHYS Stanley is keen to repay the faith shown by Geelong in offering him a new two-year contract following a solid finish to the 2018 season.
Relegated to the Cats’ VFL team twice in the first half of the season, the 28-year-old produced the best football of his 115-game career in a seven-game stretch between rounds 12 and 19 before a calf injury all but ended his season.
“I tried to earn that contract as much as I could, and I felt like I did that through the back end of the year,” Stanley said during a visit to the Children’s Ward at Geelong’s University Hospital.
“Obviously finishing the way I did wasn’t ideal. But I feel like I’ve earned the couple of years and I do want to pay that back.
“I’m going into my 10th season in the AFL, and I really don’t think I’ve performed for long enough at that level, and this year will be one to prove that and try and bring that footy out more often than not.
“Every footballer wants to do it. But my biggest goal is “OK, what made me play that good footy? What does it look like when I do play that good footy?”.”
Stanley knows the likes of Zac Smith, Ryan Abbott and mature-age draftee Darcy Fort will be breathing down his neck for the mantle as No.1 ruck.
“It’s a good thing for the team to have competition for spots,” Stanley said.
“The small forwards are probably the same, and the midfield’s probably the same; we’ve got some really good players in all those positions.
“And the young players that have developed over the last couple of years are ready to go. Quinton Narkle is going to be putting his hand up for a midfield spot or a forward spot … wherever the coach wants him to play, he’ll play a pretty solid role for us.
“Brandan Parfitt’s developed his game; he’s probably ready to go in the midfield as well.
“I think every spot on the ground is going to be fought over, which is good for us.
“Specifically, with the ruck spots, there’s probably four of us that all could play it. So it’s going to be a really solid pre-season for all of us to fight it out.”
Stanley has entered pre-season with the calf issue behind him after remaining at the club for rehab following the elimination final loss to Melbourne.
“… once we bombed out, we got to a point where we thought, “OK, let’s cool the jets and rehab it properly. Do a solid rehab program up until the Carji (Greeves Medal night)”.
“Then after Carji, I went away.
“I went away with a program. But before the Carji we did some really solid dynamic work rather than just letting it rest and chill out,; we did a really solid program to get it right.
“That’s left me in good stead now.”